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While hunting in the forest, Lord Asano of Ako and his samurai find a young half-breed and take him with them to live in the castle. Several years later, Lord Asano holds a tournament to welcome the Shogun to Ako. The night after the tournament, Lord Asano is bewitched into hurting Lord Kira of Nagato, and is punished into committing seppuku by the Shogun. Realizing that it was a Lord Kira's evil plot, the samurais and the half-breed sets out for revenge against the Shogun's order. Written by
Mika is awoken by the witch and told that Kai has been killed. The witch sticks a knife into the floorboard beside Mika's head. It is shown from different angles, however, when the witch is leaving the room, the knife is lying on a pillow. In the next shot, the knife is once again stuck in the floorboard. See more »
Ancient feudal Japan, a land shrouded in mystery, forbidden to foreigners. A group of magical islands home to witches and demons. A nation of rival provinces whose lords were ruled by a shogin whose will is absolute. Peace in the realm is kept by the samurai, master swordsmen tasked with protecting their lord and their province at all costs. Should a samurai ever lose of fail his master, he suffers the greatest shame in all Japanese society. He becomes a ronin. And yet, to know ...
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How could the paramount of Japanese culture be raped so viciously and repetitively? How could be be such a strong story be lost in a heap of self-serving non-sense, elementary school level dialogue, non-existent romance, handicaped action, unimportant, uninteresting, underdeveloped characters and so on?
Well it's always a bad sign when you have character placed on a poster and he then makes a four-second appearance, not to be seen ever again(*cough* dude with facial tattoo). It is also a bad sign to start a movie with "google earth like" introduction, showing that you have literally zero information on the subject.
But lets be fair and take if from the top. Let's take a peek at our cartboard cut-out characters. Kai, half-breed with obviously dysfunctional vocal chords is living with lord of Stereotypia, Asano, since childhood and will be pushed throughout the movie as a pivotal point in the conflict. That being said, there are certain heroes in action/adventure filmography, that don't really persuade you with their actions, but at least they provide interesting backstory that keeps you invested. Well, Kai amazingly does neither. Keanu Reeves brings out the best of his athrophied facial muscles and mumbles his way to the credits, with audience feeling absolutely nothing for his character or romance. This element of love and chemistry between him and daughter of Asano is as easy to watch as to observe someone trying to extract glass bottle from his anus with a metal hook... It is equally painful to watch, as this wedding-video/commercial director tries to communicate Kai's pain on unsuspecting audience. All this accompanied by Japanese actors struggling with English(yes, you guessed it, the movie about Japanese history is in heavy accented English). And it is not just the pronunciation, but the pacing and dramatic moments as well that keep the magic of immersion more distant than Christmas day in January. Just imagine a foreigner trying to console you in your mother language, after your loved one died. It just doesn't't work ... You'd be looking at him all confused and uncomfortable. It's same with the movie, except on screen they would give you an occasional Japanese word and then awkwardly try to translate and explain it in a same sentence. It goes for all the supporting cast and it is especially painful in case of evil lord's helper - the witch. Over the top, devoided of purpose and just all-out badly written ... if they'd put on a giant middle finger every time she appeared on screen I'd certainly be less insulted, just because I'd find it funny.
You have to suffer quite a lot of pathetic build-up and looot of exposure to be hit by another of movies' "highlights". Everybody in this movie would not survive a minute in the real world, if their brains functioned like that. Meaning? ... Well, why not start with: If you do not want your enemies to crash your wedding, do not ( I repeat, DO NOT! ) let them out of the cave (you left them in after killing their master) right before your big day.
It would be pain to continue naming all the dumb and inexplicable stuff this movie presented(you can name like 2-3 things for each character without even thinking...). There are moments when movie tries to stick to original story, but they are exactly the examples of when it should not to. According to original story, Oishi divorced his wife, but it was only to support his drunkard 'n' whoring lifestyle he took up to convince everyone he'd let go the idea of revenge. Sounds logical? Actually, yes. It was all plan that'd been in play for two years!! They tediously gathered weapons, intel, housing plans and were playing the roles of fallen samurai for two long years! Makes sense? Well yeah, it does, because they needed Kira, the bad guy, to let his guard down.
And what does the movie offer?? Oishi is released, finds Kai, who is still alive (because screenplay demands it ... even though it doesn't address the fact that he kinda forgot his love interest) and rallies ronin who had no idea what to do for a whole year. Then there's this ridiculous quest for weapons, which introduces us to Kai's past, even though we don't give a flying f*ck about it by now. They get magical swords which are not really that magical and rush in numbers to Kira's stronghold. Couple of them die on a first try (fat guy dies and we are supposed to be sad I guess...), then attack again during the wedding. Kira dies, witch dies, guards die and so does the last hope for a good action in this movie. Director tortures us for a little while before ronin commit suicide, leaving me sad, insulted and confused.
Sad for Hiroyuki Sanada, whom I like as an actor. Insulted by everything I paid to witness. Confused to hear words of praise from a seat above me.
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